DRI busts red sanders smuggling ring, seizes 8 tonnes of wood | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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DRI busts red sanders smuggling ring, seizes 8 tonnes of wood

Jul 06, 2024 11:11 AM IST

According to agency sources, the syndicate planned to smuggle the red sanders via sea route, misdeclaring it as granite marble slabs

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has thwarted an inter-state syndicate's attempt to smuggle eight metric tonnes of red sanders, a protected tree species, out of India. The contraband, valued at approximately 7.9 crore in illicit markets, was seized in a series of operations that led to the arrest of five alleged cartel members, including the exporter.

DRI officials closely monitored the loading of the contraband into a container. (Representative Image) (FILE PHOTO)
DRI officials closely monitored the loading of the contraband into a container. (Representative Image) (FILE PHOTO)

According to agency sources, the syndicate planned to smuggle the red sanders via sea route, misdeclaring it as granite marble slabs. The DRI's operation commenced after receiving specific intelligence about the smuggling plot, prompting officials to maintain discreet surveillance on the syndicate's activities.

DRI officials closely monitored the loading of the contraband into a container. Once it entered the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Nhava Sheva, Navi Mumbai, for export, authorities intercepted the shipment. Upon inspection, six tonnes of red sanders were discovered concealed behind polished granite slabs and cement bricks.

Red sanders is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty safeguarding endangered plants and animals from international trade threats. Its export is prohibited under the Customs Act, 1962.

Following leads uncovered during the investigation, the DRI conducted additional searches in Ahmednagar, Nashik, and Hyderabad. A raid on a Nashik godown yielded a further two metric tonnes of red sanders, also slated for export. Investigators determined that the initial six tonnes seized at Nhava Sheva port had been stored and dispatched from this same Nashik facility.

In subsequent actions, the DRI apprehended the Import Export Code (IEC) holder and the transporters involved. An IEC is a crucial business identification number, mandatory for import and export activities in India.

"A total of around 8 MTs of red sanders, having an illicit market value of approximately 7.9 crore, were seized under the relevant provisions of the Customs Act and five arrests were made," a DRI source stated. The five syndicate members arrested include the exporter, commission broker, godown manager, and transporter. They are currently in judicial custody.

The source added, "DRI has always shown a high commitment towards safeguarding environmental security by taking action against illegal smuggling of natural wealth of the country."

This operation underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Indian authorities in combating the illegal trade of protected species and highlights the sophisticated methods employed by smuggling syndicates to evade detection.

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